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I_Smell_Tuna

Retail Distribution

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Although I have about 3-5 years to think this over while I develop my video game, I figured I'd go ahead and get a head start on it. I did some research and found out that with all the major retail chains (Wal-Mart, EB, GameStop, Target, KMart etc) I will have to get large quantities of my video game to their distribution centers, which when totaled up comes to about 170, (Thanks Google) although I do expect it to rise to about 180 as smaller chains come to mind. Anyway, my question is does anybody have experience with retail distribution? My plan is to find a facility with a loading dock that will double as my storage and production facility. From here I will be able to schedule pickups of my video game. I googled freight carriers to find the cheapest solution but was unable to get any decent quotes. Then FedEx and UPS came to mind, the shipping giants. They have regular routes, and probably already do devliveries to these distro centers. Does anyone have any experience with this, or thoughts on my plans?

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Since you dont even know if your game will take 3 or 5 years to complete, i definitely dont think youre ready to do major self-publishing of it.
Turn to one of the existing publishers, they have everything in place for this.
And these are the guys you have to compete with for shelf-places, which are expensive (you did know it costs quite a bit of money, right?)

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Actually I DO know that it will take 3-5 years to complete. A review on the development of any major game will tell you this. But I'm not counting on that, I've broken down the tasks that need to be done and estimated the time it will take to complete them. I know it's going to cost money, although not tens of millions. Please stay with the topic.

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I'm going to have to echo tok_junior on this. If this is your first commercial title, you might be better off trying to go with one of the major publishers, who would take care of production, shipping, marketing, etc. The advantage of this is that it would be less risk on your part because you don't have to make as big of an initial investment. If your game is good, then you will likely also get more exposure this way due to the publishers significantly larger budgets. The disadvantages are that you would have to take only a cut of the profits, and you would miss out on a potentially very educational experience in running your own business.

I apologize for the slightly off topic post if you are dead set on running everything yourself, but my recommendation would be to at least look into using a publisher if you haven't already so you know what your options are.

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Quote:
The idea is to cut out the publisher to get the maximum profit out of the sales


Using the method you describe (and assuming that Walmart and EB would even TAKE your product...without a publisher this is VERY unlikely), you'd be lucky with a 5% profit margin.

Consider the alternative of online distribution where a profit margin of 20% is not hard to acheive and you don't have to worry about shelf space or delivery charges or tracking or publishers...

5% and an uphill battle vs. 20% and a website...you be the judge.

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Online distribution doesn't reach nearly as many people as retail does. I'm in it for the profit, and the business experience. I'm talking about retail distribution and you think I don't already know it's going to be hard and cost money? The work and risks are big, but so is the payoff.

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I'm not an expert in the business side of game publishing by any means, but from what I've read I think that the big retail chains (EB, Target, Wal-Mart etc.) will only deal with their distributors, and the distributors only deal with the established publishers. It is nigh on impossible for a small developer to publish their own game (sans publisher) through these channels.

You would be far better off going with a publisher if you want to see your game on store shelves. From what I've read the indie publishers such as PopCap and GarageGames offer a good percentage return. Sure, you'll make less percentage profit on each sale, but if you can exponentially increase the amount of sales you make you'll make more money overall.

The other approach is to make your own website to distribute your own game. You'll keep most of the money you make for each sale, but your number of sales due to your decreased market presence is likely to be small. You are also totally responsible for your own marketing, which is crucial since without it no-one will know your game exists.

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These major chains have their own distribution centers. Go to any of their websites and they have job listings for their distribution centers under Careers. I'm also aware of marketing and what sells games.

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